Centr trainer Luke Zocchi performs a shirtless handstand against a wall.
Centr Team

Which is better: Body part split vs. full-body workout?

Centr Team

So you want to optimize your muscle-building routine and get the most out of your body. But when there are competing ways to do that, how do you know where to start?

Let’s start at the beginning. The terms body part split or full-body workout are referring to different styles of strength training. Ah, got it! But what do they mean?

Full-body workout: You are exercising your whole body, with all muscle groups being used and stimulated in one workout. For example, you combine exercises that use the upper body and lower body, plus the core, in one training session.

Body part split: You separate your muscle groups or movement patterns into workouts on different days. For example, you might train chest and back one day, legs and core the next day, shoulders and arms the following day.

Now that you know what they mean, let’s look at the benefits of both and who would train each way.

Benefits of a full-body workout

The benefits of a full-body workout are huge.

Centr trainer Luke Zocchi performs sit-thrus in a gym.

  1. One workout, no muscles left behind. Full-body workouts are a great way to ensure you are training all muscle groups and building a balanced body.
  2. Strength and cardio combined. Full-body workouts use plenty of compound exercises, multi-joint movements that work several muscles at once, which are an efficient way of training for functional strength and cardiovascular fitness at the same time. This is because when the body needs to oxygenate multiple muscles at the same time, the heart rate rises so that blood flow can increase.
  3. Best for busy schedules. If your workout schedule is a bit random and you happen to miss a session, you won’t be missing out on training one specific body part. (You can’t skip leg day when you do a bit of leg work in every session!)

Who can use full-body workouts?

Full-body workouts might be best for you if:

  • You’re a beginner who needs to build base strength in all areas and learn correct technique and movement patterns.

  • You need or want more time for rest and recovery.

  • You’re busy and need to tick off all muscle groups in one workout.

  • You want to lose weight and are looking for workouts that maximize calorie burn.

  • You want a cardio blast along with your strength training.

What are the benefits of body part split workouts?

Body part split workouts can be great for a number of reasons.

Centr trainer Torre Washington performs a bicep curl with a heavy dumbbell.

  1. Work on your weak areas. Body part split workouts allow you to focus on weaker body parts and put a concentrated effort into strengthening a specific area. Body part splits usually include isolation exercises that hone in to really work one muscle group at a time, like a bicep curl.
  2. Maximize muscle mass. If your goal is hypertrophy, aka building serious muscle and size, the body part split training style is generally considered the best way to do it. That’s why our muscle-building program Centr Power follows a split structure in each training week – with a mix of isolation and compound exercises to layer up the gains.
  3. Focus on a specific strength goal. Want to complete 20 push-ups or grow your arms? Body part split workouts mean you can specifically train the muscle groups involved in that movement pattern or those areas.

Who can use body part split workouts?

Body part split workouts might be best for you if:

  • You’re training at Intermediate or Advanced level and feel ready to level up your gains.

  • You have a particular muscle group you’d like to strengthen.

  • You are injured and limited to training certain muscle groups.

  • You’re looking to build serious size and muscle.

  • You’re organized and can consistently dedicate 4+ days a week to training.

Body part split tip: Consider the classic 5-day bodybuilding 'bro split' – dedicating one day each week to chest, back, legs, shoulders, and arms. Alternatively, try two upper-body and two lower-body sessions weekly, or divide your days between pulling and pushing movements. Whatever split you use, ensure at least 48 hours of rest between training the same muscle group for optimum recovery.

Don’t overthink it

We get it, the gym can be intimidating and the information can be overwhelming – especially if you’re a newbie. But don’t let trying to figure out the ‘optimum’ way to build muscle stop you from picking up the weights and diving in.

Any strength training you can fit into your exercise routine is great. And while both styles have benefits, ultimately the best style of training is the one you can stick to. Through experimentation and experience, you’ll find what gets the best results for you.

Ready to build muscle?

Whichever training style suit you, Centr has your strength workouts covered. From daily sessions with our expert trainers to our definitive muscle-building program Centr Power – follow in Chris Hemsworth’s footsteps to build serious strength and size at home or in gym.

Want more movement advice from the experts?

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